As millions of Americans celebrate their newfound status as medically "insured" through the Affordable Care Act, they may still join the ranks of financially strapped patients facing the rising cost of medical services.
Fifty-eight percent of Americans reported foregoing or delaying medical care in the past year because, even with insurance, they could not afford the portion of the bill that they were expected to pay. And while many are familiar with the vague concepts of costly prescriptions and expensive tests, the reality can be found in $300 tooth extractions, $200 office visit fees because deductibles had yet to be met, and insured patients who lose their homes attempting to pay the out-of-pocket portion of medical expenses.
The New England Journal of Medicine announced in 2013 that physicians should be obligated to discuss out-of-pocket costs as a "side effect" to treatment when they make decisions about their patients' care. The journal considered this discussion as imperative to reigning in the costs of care. The concern was that healthcare providers often neglected to discuss potential costs before ordering diagnostic tests, saddling the patient with "daunting and potentially avoidable healthcare bills," wrote journal author Peter A. Ubel, M.D., a professor of business administration and medicine and public policy at Duke University in Durham, N.C.
(G.A. Hardaway, a Democrat, represents the 93rd District in the Tennessee General Assembly, including part of Shelby County and the City of Memphis. He is currently the Secretary of the Tennessee Black Caucus of State Legislators. On Friday, he released this commentary.)
Today, in my beloved Memphis, the Republican National Committee is continuing their spring meeting. Among the various decisions being made and events taking place is one of particular interest to me: a luncheon featuring a keynote speech from Kentucky Tea Party senator Rand Paul.
That Sen. Paul is speaking at a GOP luncheon is not at all notable; what is notable is that he is doing it here in Memphis, not one mile from the place where, on April 4, 1968, our city and our country was forever changed.
A quote similar to the one in this commentary's headline was coined and made popular 62 years ago (the year one of us was born) by Art Linkletter, the popular pioneer daytime talk show host in the early years of television. But Art said, "Kids say the darndest things."
There are big differences between the things white dudes say and the things kids say. The things white dudes say are not as cute and the things kids say are not as predictable. The prevailing similarity to kids, however, among more and more high profile white dudes is the lack of a filter so what comes up, comes out...especially regarding race.
The latest example is Chris "Mad Dog" Russo's declaration on his Sirius XM show that there are no black hosts whom he would deem "worthy" of doing a national sports radio show on a subscription radio service such as Sirius XM. And, if they could find one with the right resume, of course they would hire him.
The cold facts stare us in our face:
Fact 1: More than 300 girls were abducted from the rural northeast region of Nigeria on April 15 while attending secondary school; 276 are still believed to be held captive.
Fact 2: The federal government has yet to forcibly intervene to get our girls back.
The issue isn't just that the government hasn't fully addressed this atrocity, the deeper questions are: What decisive action is necessary to put a stop to what is becoming a normal occurrence? Does the Nigerian government have what it takes and what it needs to make this happen?
As the Republican National Committee descends upon Memphis, Tennessee, the home of the International Headquarters of the Church Of God In Christ, Inc. We welcome the RNC to Memphis and look forward to dialogue and building relationships.
Some if not many would wonder why the Church Of God In Christ would want to engage and have dialogue with the Republican National Committee (RNC)? Over 100 years ago our denomination was founded when black people were predominately Republican and today we are the largest Black Pentecostal faith organization with over 5 million members. The Church's leadership is concerned about the Black Community, in fact, concerned about the entire nation.
We do not deny or shy away from the fact that our members are largely conservative, however in the 21st century we have not had much of a relationship with the Republican Party. Said plainly, the issues are racial in nature but education on both sides would be appreciated, and possibly bring clarity.
With the continued consolidation going on within the media (radio, TV, newspapers), there is never-ending debate over the issue of ownership and diversity. But how do you define ownership? Is ownership the issue or editorial control or both?
As members of the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) like to remind me, black media is by definition black-owned and operated. The NNPA is composed of approximately 200 black newspapers in the United States and the Virgin Islands. They have a combined readership of nearly 20 million and the organization also has a digital presence in BlackPressUSA.com , which enables newspapers to provide real time news and information to its national constituency.
There is no question that these newspapers are wholly owned and operated by blacks, unlike media outlets such as The Grio, The Root, Essence magazine or Black Entertainment Television (BET). These outlets are merely white media masquerading as black-owned media. The Grio is owned by NBC, The Root is owned by the Washington Post, Essence is owned by Time, Inc., and BET is owned by Viacom.
A perennial favorite science project from preschool on up is the "seed experiment." That's when a child plants identical seeds in two pots. She places the first pot inside a dark cupboard and leaves it there, and she puts the second one in a sunny spot and waters it every day. She waits to see what will happen. It's very easy for even the youngest children to figure out that their seedlings need the basics – sunlight and water – if they are going to survive and thrive.
The same is true for children, and "the basics" during children's earliest years can have long lasting effects. Arloc Sherman, senior researcher at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and one of the contributors to the new Harvard Education Press book "Improving the Odds for America's Children," put it this way:
"I think sometimes we forget to say how important for children's futures the day-to-day basic assistance of food, clothing, shelter is . . . We've had help from the research community recently, striking studies that help make the case that when you just provide the basics, that's one key cornerstone for children's future success. So it's not just that we're meeting an important need – which would be enough in itself – but we're also providing for opening future doors of opportunity."